Today, the European Union and 22 member states signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. They have now joined the US and seven other nations that signed the treaty last October.
This signing ceremony merely formalized the EU’s adoption of ACTA last month, during a completely unrelated meeting on agriculture and fisheries, reports TechDirt.
Though initiated by the US, Japan is the official depository of the treaty.
Removal of the Three Strikes clause, in which users accused of three counts of piracy would be barred from the internet, paved the way for the EU to adopt ACTA last month.
Related to ACTA, a chapter in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) “would have state signatories adopt even more restrictive copyright measures than ACTA,” reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Both ACTA and TPP were developed without public input and outside international trade groups, like the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
“Now everything’s a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped
What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good, you’ll find out when you reach the top.” – Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind.
“No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently-
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-
Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls-
Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers-
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.” – Edgar Allan Poe, The City in the Sea (1831).
“John Murdoch: Excuse me. How do I get to the end of the line?
Train Passenger: You want the Express.
John Murdoch: [after train blows by him] Hey, how come that train didn’t stop?
Station Master: That’s the Express.” - Dark City, Directed by Alex Proyas (1998).
“A man made of stone has nothing to say.” – Kno, If You Cry f. Natti, from the album Death Is Silent (2010).
White House bypasses Senate to ink agreement that could allow Chinese companies to demand ISPs remove web content in US with no legal oversight
While most news stories have accurately characterized the Obama administration’s proposed military spending cuts as “modest,” the Pentagon is planning significant reductions in the number of active-duty troops in the Army and Marine Corps. Both forces will be larger than they were in 2001, but the active-duty Army will fall from a post-9/11 high of 570,000 in 2010 to 490,000. The Marine Corps will go from 202,000 to 182,000.
The DoD should likewise reduce civilian personnel.
The reason the Pentagon’s plan places so much emphasis on personnel is stated clearly in the document (pdf):
Military personnel costs have doubled since 2001, or about 40% above inflation, while the number of full-time military personnel, including activated reserves, increased by only 8% during the same time period.
The government in Washington is a failed terrorist state. It can no longer manage American public opinion, its violations of international law are resented by many nations, and it has failed to psychologically dominate the world by unleashing terror at home and abroad.
To put it simply, nations are not afraid of America because it has military strength combined with political vision, rather, they are afraid because America’s leaders are insane and self-destructive. In other words, they are afraid of a failed terrorist state, not a global superpower.
Prosecutor, DEA Agent Confirm Intel From Sinaloa Mafia Used to Undermine Juarez, Beltran Leyva Drug Organizations
U.S. government officials have long presented the drug war through the media as a type of "Dirty Harry” movie, in which hardscrabble cops are engaged in a pitched battle with hardened street criminals who threaten the very social fabric of life behind America’s gated communities.
Of course it’s a big pretense, with the truth being closer to what really goes on in the marketplace of the US everyday. The drug war is, in reality, a drug business in which backroom deals are cut to advance the profit motives of the business entities involved, whether they be narco-trafficking organizations, or weapons manufacturers or government bureaucracies — and the aspiring, greedy careerists who inhabit their leadership ranks.
But even the US government makes mistakes, and in this case it’s the government’s own agents and prosecutors who have that egg on their face via affidavits filed in early December in a controversial criminal case now pending in the Windy City. The pleadings supposedly advance the government’s case against a major Mexican narco-trafficker, Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla. In reality, though — for any person of a critical mind reading them — the court documents demonstrate the insidious nature of the cooperation that exists between the US government and Mexico’s Sinaloa mafia organization.
Nowhere has the peel on that sour fruit been stripped back more cleanly with the paring knife of truth, revealing the bloody pulp inside, than in the ongoing narco-trafficking case against the rising Mexican Sinaloa Cartel capo Zambada Niebla — son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, who, together with business associate Joaquin Guzman Loera (El Chapo), serves as a godfather of the Sinaloa organization.
Ever since ATF’s Fast and Furious gun-running operation was catapulted into the national spotlight in early 2011, the focus has been on the politics influencing the police work and the manipulations behind intelligence operations, with little to no attention paid to the dysfunction of the drug-war bureaucracy.
A report released by the US Government Accountability Office in June 2009, some three months before Operation Fast and Furious was even launched, underscores that dysfunction in succinct detail. Advance copies of that report were provided at the time to “the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and State and to the Office of National Drug Control Policy,” GAO documents state.
In that now two-and-a-half-year-old report is a blistering indictment of operations, obviously already in existence prior to June 2009 and Fast and Furious, that utilized a strategy similar to that employed in Fast and Furious — which allowed criminals to “walk” thousands of guns into Mexico under the watch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (better known as ATF). The supposed goal: identify and bring to justice the higher-ups in Mexico’s arms trafficking organizations.
Here are the money graphs from the GAO report:
Now that everyone in this electoral projections business is picking former House Speaker Newt Gringich to win a come-from-behind victory in today's South Carolina primary, let's reflect on why they had so little faith until after the polls began turning his way. Less than a week ago, the New York Times' 538 blog projected former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with an 82 percent chance to win in the Palmetto State and, citing its method of "regression analysis" gave him a 98 percent chance to win the GOP nomination.
PREPARING FOR THE NEXT CONQUEST: What does Libya tell us about Intervention in Syria and Iran?. by Richard Lightbown
Debkafile reported on 17 January that an imminent joint Israeli-US exercise had been cancelled by Israel’s prime minister, and not by the US as widely supposed. Convinced that Iran has made the decision to become a nuclear power Mr Netanyahu is preparing for possible unilateral attacks on Iranian nuclear sites.British press reports say agents from the CIA and MI6 are operating within Syria while British and French Special Forces are training members of the Free Syrian Army in Turkey. Pravda has claimed that NATO snipers who fought in Libya have been sent to Syria.